NZICF 2014: My Top Picks!

NZICF 2014It’s that time of the year again for all us Kiwi comedy geeks – the New Zealand International Comedy Festival!  As I am on the other side of the world, sadly I will not be attending this year – my first in since forever! – but rest assured I will be supporting, reading reviews, tweeting, etc from afar.

Another top line up this year as to be expected with the usual suspects but also some new faces!  For those who are getting overwhelmed by all the shows that are on offer, here are my recommendations (in no particular order):

Chris Martin - NZICF 20141. Chris Martin

Chris’ warped perspective on many things in life and his great comedic sense is an excellent formula for a fantastic, laughs aplenty hour of comedy.

I went to his Edinburgh Fringe show last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself – check out my Broadway Baby review here.

Chris will be performing at the Loft at Q on 25 & 26 April and from 29 April to 3 May.  Click here for more details and to book tickets.

Markus Birdman - NZICF 20142. Markus Birdman

Markus is an extremely sharp and engaging comedian and a captivating raconteur.  His anecdotes are skillfully structured with pitch-perfect comedic timing and will have you in stitches.

Check out what I thought of this same show when I went to see it at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe here.

Markus is at The Classic on 25 & 26 April and from 28 April to 3 May.  He is then performing at the San Francisco Bath House in Wellington from 6 to 10 May before he’s off on a nationwide tour as part of the Comedy Convoy!  Click here for more details and to book tickets to his solo show.

Gordon Southern - NZICF 20143. Gordon Southern

Gordon is the best comedian to go see if you are after comedy that is witty, fast-paced, energetic and just so incredibly feel-good.

Last year’s show was such a joy to watch and one of my favorites from both last year’s festival and the Edinburgh Fringe – here’s my review of the latter show.

Gordon will be at The Vault at Q from 6 to 10 May and The Fringe Bar in Wellington from 13 to 17 May.  Click here for more details and to book tickets – also features my contributor The Laughing Kiwi’s review of this year’s show which is currently at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Jason Byrne - NZICF 20144. Jason Byrne

Jason is born to be on the stage and to do comedy – he is an absolute master at his craft.  His style of comedy is a little bit silly, very raucous and just bloody entertaining.

I was lucky enough to secure a review ticket to see his show – check out my Broadway Baby review here.

Jason is hosting the Comedy Gala on 24 April and then performing at the Rangatira at Q from 25 to 27 April – only three days so get in quick!  Click here for more details and to book tickets.

Marcel Lucont - NZICF 20145. Marcel Lucont

Everyone’s favorite Frenchman is back on NZ shores!  Sardonic, deliciously narcissistic and oh-so-dashing, Monsieur Lucont is a must-see.

The last solo show I attended was in 2012 when he was last in Auckland – read my review here.

Marcel will be gracing us with his presence at the Foxglove Ballroom in Wellington from 29 April to 3 May before his Auckland run in Rangatira at Q from 14 to 17 May.  Click here for more details and to book tickets.

James Acaster - NZICF 20146. James Acaster

James fast gained popularity during last year’s festival and all the buzz and rave reviews are true.  His material is sharp, witty and highly entertaining.

Here’s my review and if you need more convincing here is The Laughing Kiwi’s review who only just saw him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

James will be at The Classic on 25 & 26 April and from 28 April to 5 May (not 4th).  His season sold out in a flash last year so get your tickets early!  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Urzila Carlson - NZICF 20147. Urzila Carlson

Though she hails from South Africa, NZ has very much claimed her!  Urzila is extremely funny and a top notch comedian with a natural gift of the gab.

Check out what I thought of her show last year here.

Urzila is performing at the Rangatira at Q from 1-3 May and then at the San Francisco Bath House in Wellington from 6 to 10 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Dan Nightingale - NZICF 20148. Dan Nightingale

Dan’s affable nature and conversational style teamed with his hilarious stories and self-deprecating humor make for a genuinely enjoyable hour of comedy.

Here’s my review of the show he brought to last year’s festival.

Dan is performing at The Basement from 6 to 10 May and then at the Foxglove Ballroom in Wellington from 13 to 17 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Tom Binns - NZICF 20149. Tom Binns as Ian D. Montfort

For something a little different, Tom’s unique brand of “comedium” comedy is a good option.  He is a talented and adept performer and whether you are a believer or a skeptic, I daresay you will leave impressed.

I went to see him last year and was both thoroughly entertained and amazed – have a read here.

Tom as his alter ego Ian will be at the Foxglove Ballroom in Wellington from 6-10 May and then the Loft at Q from 13 to 17 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Stephen K Amos - NZICF 201410.  Stephen K Amos

Stephen is an accomplished veteran in the industry and if you haven’t already seen him, you should!  He is extremely good at what he does, garnering laughs effortlessly with his feel-good style of comedy.

Here is my review of last year’s show.

Stephen is at the Rangatira at Q on 25 & 26 April and from 29 April to 3 May before doing one show at The Opera House in Wellington on 4 May.  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

Other Recommendations!

While I have not had the pleasure of seeing him do a solo show I would also totally recommend Stuart Goldsmith.  I saw him at last year’s Comedy All Stars where he was compère and in the brief times he came on stage, he delivered some really good material.  I also got to see him host his critically acclaimed comedy podcast at the Edinburgh Fringe which was excellent – here’s my review.

If you want more bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with ensemble shows as they are like the ideal comedic tasting platter!  I would definitely recommend the Comedy Gala; it is quite pricey but well worth it and will get you pumped for the coming weeks of laughs.  There is also the 5 Star Comedy Preview, the Comedy All Stars (this year there are two – #1 and #2) and The Big Show (in the CBD and at the BMC).

For something a little different, Le Comique is a fun variety comedy show that is a great option if you have more eclectic taste.  And finally, for that last comedy festival fix, Last Laughs is a fantastic way to end the festival on a high.

So there you go, my fellow Kiwis – my humble recommendations based on what I have gone to see and enjoyed.  Now get booking and get excited for (in my opinion) one of the best few weeks in New Zealand’s live entertainment calendar!

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MICF 2014: Gordon Southern – Your New Favourite Comedian

Gordon Southern - Your New Favourite ComedianReviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

Gordon Southern is a fantastic British comedian who has stolen the limelight and entertained us in Australia for the last ten years. He is a well-known face in the comedy circuit but whom I feel is terribly under appreciated. If the secrets of his hilarity were exposed to the comedy-going public, I’m sure he would be selling out rooms every night.

Southern is a Hives fan, which some may have already gathered from his outfit, and this is where the show begins. Taking us back to when he was 18, Your New Favourite Comedian is a systemic review of Southern’s life, focusing particularly on the last decade when he started coming to Australia.

Tales told over the hour brilliantly encapsulate and deliver stories of love, employment and that cockiness that follows us around forever after our first proper job. We also hear of first loves, fourth loves and of the ones who got away.

In this show Southern plays a character which teaches us some surprisingly alphabetical life lessons. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Southern portray a character but judging by the reaction of the crowd the audience seemed to love it.

This hour will take you around the world – starting in Essex, going to Australia, almost never leaving Singapore, and finishes off with a more than sweet happy ending – all while systematically removing the rug from under any hecklers who weren’t written in to the show.

Your New Favourite Comedian is an all-round good show for all audiences which will leave you feeling better about everything. It is strongly written, and strongly presented by a well experienced comedian.

5-stars

Gordon Southern is performing in The Swamp at the Gin Palace until April 20th (not Mondays).  For more details and to book tickets, click here.

*Editor note: If you need more convincing check out this rave review, also from The Laughing Kiwi, or this Broadway Baby one penned last year by yours truly!

Preview: Gordon Southern

Gordon Southern 2014

Reviewed by The Laughing Kiwi

I was lucky enough to be able to catch Southern during his week-long season headlining at The Comic’s Lounge in Melbourne where he not only showcased some of his best work but also took the opportunity to fine tune some new material for his upcoming new show, Your New Favourite Comedian.

Southern effectively followed on from material that had already been laid down by the preceding comedians in the lineup while effortlessly interacting with the crowd.  His act contained both current and local references, rather than solely relying on proven generic material.

Clearly a shining star in his field, this seasoned pro is unquestionably underrated in the Australian comedy scene.  Based on the reaction from the crowd tonight though, this should rightfully change.  Southern is “down under” until the middle of May, performing his shows of the last two years – A Brief History of History (2012), and The Kerfuffle* (2013) – before premiering his 2014 show in Adelaide for the Adelaide Fringe.

*Editor note: I saw The Kerfuffle at last year’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – check out my 5-star review of the latter performance here.

Southern is a comedian who never fails to deliver and has a great record of winning over even the coldest of comedy rooms with tales from his home in London and of his travels.  This overwhelmingly knowledgeable comedian expertly controls his environment to ensure each of his punchlines have maximum impact, all with the appearance of never even being slightly challenged.

Get in quick to get tickets to this star performer at every chance you can, he’s not one to be missed.

5-stars

Gordon Southern will be premiering his new show Your New Favourite Comedian at the Adelaide Fringe from February 13th – March 1st.  For tickets, click here.

Southern will then be performing at the Canberra Comedy Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and New Zealand International Comedy Festival respectively.

NZICF 2013: Gordon Southern – The Kerfuffle

Gordon Southern

After a successful run at last year’s festival, Gordon Southern is back in New Zealand with his trusty sound effects box and unique brand of edutainment-style comedy.  The Kerfuffle is a delightful hour of rapid fire stand up that is an absolute joy to watch.

There is a whole lot that gets covered throughout the show.  Audience members are designated celebrity personas (with weird hobbies like taking photos of meat), he relentlessly pokes fun at British idiosyncrasies and we find out why he has forty avocados in his flat.  We also get treated to an impromptu Bollywood dance lesson and learn about the time he threw caution to the wind and faced off against a certain Prince dubbed “Captain Wales” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

His material is upbeat, engaging and wonderfully witty with impeccable comedic timing, particularly when he chooses to use his signature “that’s a fun fact!” audio insert.  He also recounts some genuinely heartwarming and compelling stories from his family life which he manages to fit in seamlessly without significantly affecting the energy of the set.

Gordon is undeniably a gifted entertainer and skilled performer which he unabashedly credits to him having a drama degree.  Drama degree or not, his charismatic disposition, boundless energy and animated storytelling will have you captivated from start to finish.  If you weren’t a fan coming in to the show, I daresay you would leave as one.

The Kerfuffle exudes feel good, is immensely entertaining and packs a comedic punch.  If you enjoy fun facts, jokes about the Royal Family, toy giraffes and just bloody good comedy (with the odd rap thrown in for good measure), you will thoroughly enjoy this show.

The Whimsical Banana rates The Kerfuffle: 5/5 bananas!

Gordon Southern is performing at The Classic Studio until May 11th – click here for tickets.

This review can also be found on Keeping Up With NZ.

UPDATE: Here is my Broadway Baby review of the same show which I saw again at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Counting Down to the NZICF…

NZICF 2013

It’s that time of the year again!  In just under 3 weeks, the very best of local and international comedic talent will be tickling our funny bone and I for one cannot wait!

The New Zealand International Comedy Festival kicks off on the 26th April and as always the line up is looking fantastic.  I am disappointed that a few of my favorites will not be here this year, namely Marcel Lucont, Mark Watson, Jason Byrne and Chris Cox, but in saying that there are plenty of new names that I’m keen to check out as well as ones that were here last year that I didn’t manage to get to.

Unlike last year, this year I am being super organized with who I want to see and have already plotted dates for most – am trying to fit in as much as I possibly can!  That said, here are the acts on the top of my list:

I am most excited about…

Danny Bhoy Stephen K Amos The Boy With Tape On His Facejpg

I’m extremely stoked that my “first comedy love” Danny Bhoy is back this year and I don’t doubt Dear Epson will be brilliant and full of hilarious anecdotes as always!  Also looking forward to the superb Stephen K Amos and his new show The Scotsman and of course I cannot wait to relive the phenomenal silent show that EVERYONE should see – More Tape – by someone I feel so privileged to know, the super talented The Boy With Tape On His Face!

I am looking forward to…

Gordon Southern Chris Martin Idiots Of Ants

Last year I really enjoyed Gordon Southern and Chris Martin but only managed to see them as part of an ensemble show so these two excellent comedians are definitely on my to-see list!  I was also really gutted I missed out on the entertaining sketch comedy antics of the Idiots of Ants so am happy they are back this year too.  Thanks for returning, guys!

I am keen to check out…

Jack DeeWayne Brady Dan Nightingale

Super pumped that Jack Dee, Wayne Brady and Dan Nightingale will be at this year’s festival as their respective styles of comedy are my favorite kinds of stand up!

I am also planning on seeing…

Arj Barker Tom Gleeson Urzila Carlson

I have seen Arj Barker, Tom Gleeson and Urzila Carlson so many times on TV I think it’s about time I see these top notch comedians in the flesh!

And last but not least this year’s Billy T nominees – Eli Matthewson, Joseph Moore, Pax, Rose Matafeo and Tom Furniss.

Billy T Nominees Eli Matthewson Joseph Moore Pax Rose Matafeo Tom Furniss

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Billy T Jams/ comedy festival program launch at Q back in February (thanks Spencer!) and so I got a taste of what these newbies to the comedy scene have in store for us.  They are a talented bunch with great potential – am definitely looking forward to checking out their full shows.

Snippets from their spots at the Billy T Jams can be found on the Comedy Festival YouTube page.  I would also strongly recommend heading to Keeping Up With NZ and checking out this awesome podcast featuring the nominees.

The above mentioned are of course only the tip of the iceberg.  There are a ton more comedians that are on my to-see list, and of course let’s not forget the Comedy Gala, Le Comique and Last Laughs… Looking forward to the laughs!!

To find out more about the above comedians’ shows, click on the pictures for show details but for the full line up of this year’s comedy festival, head on over to the NZICF website.  Get ready to Laugh Yourself Silly, Auckland (and Wellington) – it’s going to be epic!

*Picture credit to comedyfestival.co.nz

The Whimsical Banana’s Edinburgh Fringe Picks!

The annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the place to be for all performing arts and stand up comedy geeks like me so I am absolutely gutted that I’m not there!  But I’m all for sharing the love so here are my top recommendations for those of you who are there and still trying to decide who and what to see:

Fringe Pick #1 – The Boy With Tape On His Face

August 2nd-26th (not 14th) at the Pleasance Courtyard
A whimsical mix of mime, vaudeville and puppetry involving lots of toys, props and audience participation.  Heaps of fun, endlessly funny and just bloody brilliant!  This absolutely fantastic show is one you do not want to miss!!
Tickets are selling like hot cakes so get in quick!  Buy them HERE or check out my spoiler-free review HERE.

Fringe Pick #2 – Marcel Lucont

August 2nd-26th (not 14th) at the Underbelly, Cowgate
France’s premiere misanthropist and self-proclaimed flâneur, raconteur and bon-viveur.  Low energy but outstanding show with mostly sardonic humor and clever wordplay.
Get tickets HERE and check out what I thought HERE!

Fringe Pick #3 – Jason Byrne

August 1st-12th at EICCF
He is a comedic genius and I’m convinced is the funniest man on the planet.  Non-stop riotous laughter from start to finish; you will be gasping for breath and wiping away tears!
Get tickets HERE – don’t miss out; season almost over!

Fringe Pick #4 – Stephen K Amos

August 2nd-25th (not 13th ,14th , 20th or 21st) at The Stand
Delightful and fabulous feel-good comedy that will have you grinning from ear to ear by the end of the hour!  Great repertoire of accents and exceptional observational comedy.
Get tickets HERE!

Fringe Pick #5 – Mark Watson

August 1st-27th (not 13th or 20th) at Assembly George Square
One of my all-time favorites!  Unpretentious, very accessible and quirky brand of comedy.  A non-stop string of hilarious random stories and brilliant jokes that just flows together.
Get tickets HERE!

Fringe Pick #6 – Gordon Southern

August 1st-26th (not 8th) at the Gilded Balloon Teviot
Self-proclaimed “International World Clown” who puts a musical and funny spin to history.  Wonderfully enthusiastic, unexpectedly poetic and very clever – edutainment at its finest!
Get tickets HERE (Sportsman Bar until 11th) and HERE (Nightclub Bar from 12th).

*Not at the Fringe but a Must See! – Chris Cox

Next show: September 24th at the Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol
Engaging storyteller and absolutely amazing “mind reader who can’t read minds” that will both impress and baffle you.  Brilliant, magical and mind-boggling – you have to see to believe!
Get tickets HERE and read my review HERE.

These are just my top-most picks but I have many other favorites and there are HUNDREDS more on offer so happy choosing, attending and laughing!  I’ll just be sitting here being incredibly jealous!

For the full line-up check out the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website or the Underbelly website.

*If you want to find out more about these excellent comedians, click the pictures to be taken to their official websites!